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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old August 27th, 2005, 02:49 PM   #1
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A bit concerned...

I bought the HC1 to use for shooting high school football. Besides the widescreen which works well, I wanted the high resolution look. Typically I shoot and dump it straight onto VHS tape using the a/v cable provided, meaning I'm putting a downrez composite signal onto VHS tape. Last year I did the same thing, using JVC's HD10U.
I must say I'm more than a bit concerned about the final look. Wow, it lost alot of detail. It looks just as soft as if I'd shot it on DV to begin with! I'm certain that the JVC camera (720 p30) looked better downrezed onto VHS.
Anyone have any hunches as to why this might be so? Or am I just imagining this?
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Old August 27th, 2005, 02:55 PM   #2
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Of course it's hard to say without seeing it in person, but composite video on VHS tape is gonna look pretty ragged no matter what you do. I think it's less than 300 lines horizontal resolution.

Of course there might be other issues with the Sony camera regarding fast motion. Browse through this forum a little to find discussion of those.
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Old August 27th, 2005, 03:10 PM   #3
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No, it's ragged whether it's a static shot with no motion or whether I'm following the action. The key here is that JVC's 720 p30 looked better than this 1080i stuff. I'm wondering if I have to adjust the sharpness detail upward (it's at factory preset now).
This should concern others who, for whatever reason, still distribute on VHS.
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Old August 27th, 2005, 04:02 PM   #4
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Hi Lynne

Is there any reason not to distribute on DVD ? the Hc1 footage shot in HDV and then downconverted to SD does look very good.

Porting the video from HC1 to VHS tape i would think is a bit like buying a Ferrari to get the groceries 500yds away - not what the machine was really engineered for.
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Old August 27th, 2005, 04:33 PM   #5
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The majority of American high school athletic departments are still using VHS.
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Old August 27th, 2005, 05:02 PM   #6
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Yes, that's what I was going to say. The coaches want it on VHS. I suppose I could try to push DVD on them but then again, what's more reliable than a fat, heavy VHS tape in a dusty old VCR?
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Old August 27th, 2005, 08:42 PM   #7
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chris - Oh i see i didn't know that about USA schools.

bit surprising but still, if they want it like that then ...
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Old August 28th, 2005, 07:37 AM   #8
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A few guesses...

1--Maybe the downconvert chip in JVC's cameras are superior to Sony's
2--The a/v cable? JVC's featured an S-video out whereas Sony's is strictly composite (unless you want to pay $50 for an optional cable). But that really shouldn't matter since the VHS decks require composite in anyways.
3--This is my final answer--I'm betting the sharpness does have to be cranked up when VHS is to be the distribution medium.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 09:51 AM   #9
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It may have to do with the fact that from the JVC camera you are scaling down 720p 30p to end up with VHS at 30p progressive frames. The HC! when down converted to VHS will give you an interlaced 30i. The progressive VHS might have a little bit more detail and sharpness.
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Old August 29th, 2005, 08:23 AM   #10
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(To complete the post of Thomas)

To go from 720p/16:9 (mainly JVC in the HDV world) to 480i/4:3 (NTSC used by VHS), the 720 lines must be converted into 360 ones (and not 480, to take into account the 16:9 aspect); the electronic needs to convert each 2 source lines into 1 target line, to add 60 black lines before and 60 black lines after, and finally, to split the result in 2 fields of 240 (1 interlaced frame of 480 lines = 2 fields of 240 lines); the mathematical conversion is easy and, due to the fact that the source image is progressive, all the sources lines of a given frame are in the same plan: the resulting NTSC lines have quite no lost of information --it's no more an HD definition but a SD one--.
Only the time axis is not right converted, and watching 480 lines in an interlaced mode, instead of progressive, creates some artifacts with the fast movements: in the 'Sport' domain, that can be a problem if you want to watch all the game, but can be an advantage if you want to ponctually analyse the VHS in slow motion (sport debriefing...).
So, if you judge the final quality only with a 'static' shot (video without fast movement), as you did, the result will ever seem to you very good when converting from 720p to 480i.

To go from 1080i/16:9 (mainly Sony in the HDV world) to 480i/4:3 (NTSC used by VHS), the better way is not to convert the total frame of 1080 lines to 360 lines but to keep the 2 sources fields of 540 lines and to convert each of them into its corresponding target field of 240 lines (30 black lines up + 180 lines with information + 30 black lines down); the electronic needs to convert each interlaced 3 lines (taken in a vertical space of 6 lines compared to the progressive mode) to 1 line; due to the line gaps between each source line (remember, in an interlaced mode, 1 line on 2 belongs to the other field), the resulting 2 fields look a little less sharp than from a 720p conversion.
The good point is that the motion information along the time axis is kept: if you compare now some video with some fast movements, maybe you will judge that the conversion on a VHS is now better from a 1080i source (this point must be amended by the fact that the MPEG2 compression used by HDV is not in favor of the very fast movements!).

More generally, because the NTSC standard on consumer VHS can be only interlaced, the 1080i option is maybe the better way for a down-conversion from HDV to VHS: the result will look more 'natural' for normal people.
In opposite, if the pure picture definition is your goal and if fast movements are the exception in your shots, a 720p to 480i conversion is maybe the best choice for you.
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Last edited by Bruno Donnet; August 29th, 2005 at 05:17 PM. Reason: correction to take into account the 16:9 conversion
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Old September 7th, 2005, 10:18 AM   #11
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VHS - Amazing...

A DVD player can be had nowadays for about $30:

http://www.circuitcity.com/rpsm/catO...ategorylist.do

Time to dump that 80s tech...
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Old September 7th, 2005, 12:33 PM   #12
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Better yet, an inexpensive laptop computer so they can lug hundreds of hours of footage around and pull it up almost immediately using one of the available popular codecs. They can burn thier own Data style DVD to store the movies for archive purposes.

Lyne, even with a low end NLE (I think even Windows Movie Maker might work in this case, which is free with XP)...you could capture and convert to something like 720p WMV or Divx or Quicktime and have excellent results.

I believe Sonys inexpensive Movie Studio (or is it Factory) could capture the 1080i natively then from the timeline output to what ever the coaches want.It will create Windows Media Video direct from the timeline.

I still say stay away from anything with a celeron in it. Centrinos (and Pentium M) are overpriced unless you absolutely need long battery life on the road.

Laptops with AMD Turons (64bit mobile cpu) can be had for just under 1K with 15.4 in wide screen, 512meg of ram, 80 gig HD and a DVD/CD burner running Windows XP Home Edition. Plus almost all of them come with MS works, a nice basic combo package (WP, Spreadsheet, flat file database, appointment calendar....).

I just bought my wife an HP z8100 series desktop replacement laptop with 2.8ghz Pentium 4HT, 512meg ram, 80gig drive, ati x600 video (best looking video playback I've ever seen on any system), 17inch wide lcd,dual layer dvd burner, wireless, external tuner with remote, Windows XP Media Center...for 1345.00 from Circuit City. Just to give you an idea.

Maybe a fund drive to get one?



You can make them feel like NFL hotshots carrying around game plans and playbacks in a briefcase. Just don't let them talk you into teaching them Excel....hehehe


$30.00 DVD players tend to breakdown quickly in a rough envinronment.
Good ones start at 32.95 (just kidding).
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 01:14 PM   #13
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Confessions of a former VHS user...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden
I bought the HC1 to use for shooting high school football. Besides the widescreen which works well, I wanted the high resolution look. Typically I shoot and dump it straight onto VHS tape using the a/v cable provided, meaning I'm putting a downrez composite signal onto VHS tape. Last year I did the same thing, using JVC's HD10U.
I must say I'm more than a bit concerned about the final look. Wow, it lost alot of detail. It looks just as soft as if I'd shot it on DV to begin with! I'm certain that the JVC camera (720 p30) looked better downrezed onto VHS.
Anyone have any hunches as to why this might be so? Or am I just imagining this?
If you're really complaining about detail loss in a VHS conversion, you're not even remotely concerned about HDV, 1080i vs.720p, or DV. Any of these will lay down as sharp as the other on plain old VHS.

That's not to say you're wrong about the quality you see, only that you're looking in the wrong place. For example, you shouldn't expect the DACs for video output to be the best possible on any camcorder. They're available for preview or consumer playback, not really intended for production output. And of course, they're subjust to the power and voltage issues, the harsh taskmistress of any portable camcoder design. With that said, it's not necessarily a shock that maybe the JVC had somewhat better DACs + downconversion than the Sony. Again, this is not a primary concern, but particularly, an easy thing to cut back on in a compact camera design.

Back when I did VHS on a regular basis, I didn't find any of my camcorders acceptable. Much of that was due to the fact I couldn't tweak the analog output. So I used a dedicated video output card on my PC. Naturally, I wanted to edit anyway, and this also addresses snother thing -- you really need to run an NTSC or PAL color filter over the HDV or DV output, if your camera isn't doing that internally, for production. Digital formats may seem to be NTSC or PAL, but that's really just video timing -- they're under no obligation to downscale the color yet again. Do your composite/split outputs do this? Maybe...

Another issue, of course, is the recording deck -- that'll have something to say about your final result. If it was the same in both cases, at the very least you know that the JVC's output was better mated to the inputs of that deck than the Sony or your former DV cameras. I always use my old but fairly high spec JVC S-VHS deck for S-VHS mastering, and I do see the difference.
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